MotherGather

Real Baby and Birth Stories from Real Women

Birth Rites

Posted By on August 8, 2010

The Birth of Arwen, July 1974

Posted By on July 11, 2010

It was the summer of 1974. I was 24 years old, married for one year.  I was pregnant for the second time, but this was going to be my baby to keep.

My pregnancy was fairly uneventful. The only craving I had was for fried shrimp at 2 in the morning. The closest I could get was a can of tuna. I ate tuna salad sandwiches almost daily. (This was before the scare of mercury in fish.)

My due date was July 9th.  We moved on July 1st, just a block down the road from a one bedroom to a two bedroom apartment. So many people came to help us move, I was not allowed to lift anything.  By 4 in the afternoon, everything was unpacked into the kitchen cupboards, the bed was assembled and made up and I was sitting down with my feet up and a cup of tea.

But, July 9th came and went. I was still pregnant. The baby came two weeks early in my first pregnancy. That wasn’t happening this time around.  By July 15th, I was refusing to answer the phone.  People would call and ask why I was still there.  By July 20th, I was telling people that I had decided not to have a baby after all.  On July 24th, I went to the doctor and asked why the baby hadn’t come yet. He said that he thought the baby was still a little small. That had me worried.  How could this baby be small?  My first baby was over eight pounds. I know that today, doctors won’t let women go that far past their due date, but he didn’t seem to be worried about this. (more…)

Meghan’s Birth Story

Posted By on June 9, 2010

Before giving birth, I tried to be as open-minded as possible about my options. I did my research, looking into homebirth, drugs versus drug-free, etc. I was open to the idea of an epidural – but not set on it unless I felt that I needed it.  We were prepared for the idea of a C-section if necessary – anything to make sure our daughter would be safe (we already knew she would be a girl). I knew a lot about risks and benefits of different choices, and prepared further by doing prenatal class and prenatal yoga. The yoga class was actually where I got the most realistic advice – they had speakers each week who gave us lots of helpful information.

My due date was Saturday, March 6th. I felt ready 2 weeks before – I was exhausted and uncomfortable and had had enough. I also had a bad sinus infection a couple of weeks before she was due, but felt better by my due date. At that point, I felt fine, had no signs of going into labour – despite trying everything I could to get things going (evening primrose oil, raspberry tea, walking, sex, spicy food, etc.)  I’ve learned since then that they’re no point in pushing it if your body isn’t ready.  All of my attempts only left me feeling exhausted, crampy, and intensified the heartburn.

I noticed that at that point of pregnancy, people are uncomfortable to be around you – you’re like a ticking time bomb. “When are you due?” they say. “Tomorrow,” you reply. And they just shift away from you, trying not to make any sudden movements. (more…)

Birth

Posted By on May 27, 2010

(First written June 11, 2007: a doula’s perspective.)

G’s labour was my third attendance at a labour not-my-own. I am struck by the fact that, should I have been raised in a farming community far away from anywhere else, I would probably work very hard to become a midwife. I really enjoy being in support of a woman in labour. There is a different rhythm and reality to birthing-time, a sort of a parallel way of being that requires active watching and listening to another person: to me, it is as if the listening is as instinctive as the labouring. I sort of disappear, and time does, too, and there’s just this contraction, and then this one, and this run to get ice, and that run to get a blanket. (more…)

Birth Story of Thomas, May 2004

Posted By on May 27, 2010

At 3:45 a.m., May 19, 2004, my son Jackson (2 ½ years old) woke me up by coming to our bed.  He said, “Mummy, I’m sore.”  When I felt him, I realized that he was burning up.  We went back to his bed and I lay down with him for a few minutes.  I realized that he really did have a high fever so I got up to get the thermometer.  When I checked his temperature, it was 102.3oF.  I gave him some Advil and lay down with him to help him fall asleep.

While I was lying there I noticed I had mild cramping and began to wonder if I was in labour.  I fell asleep and woke up about 2 hours later.  It was about 5:45 when I went back to my bed and woke my husband up.  I told him that Jackson was really sick and that I might be in labour.  (more…)

The Birth of Jenny Rebecca, February 14th, 1972

Posted By on May 26, 2010

In the summer of 1971 I was 21. I discovered that I was pregnant.  I was single and had just finished my second year of teaching.  I was visiting my step-brother and his wife in Niagara Falls when I found out.

I knew right away how I was going to handle the situation.  I knew that I wasn’t ready to raise a child. In 1971, being a single mother wasn’t as accepted as it is now, and I didn’t ever want to put a child through the embarrassment or ridicule that I feared were inevitable. I also didn’t ever want to resent my child for the difficulties that were bound to happen. (more…)

Shannon’s Birth Story

Posted By on May 22, 2010

This was my first pregnancy. My birth story isn’t idyllic, but it’s a story I love. During an early appointment, my midwife made a comment that stuck with me: “Some births seem so straightforward and beautiful and the woman feels disappointed; other births are downright violent and the woman is still so happy. I think the difference is when a woman feels that she is informed and empowered through it all.”

I didn’t have a birth plan – I knew what things I wanted and didn’t want, but it wasn’t elaborate. I wanted vaginal, unmedicated, at the hospital with a return home ASAP. I actually went into the labour very content with the idea that every one experiences birth differently and so I didn’t try to prepare, but instead actively protected myself from other people’s insights. (more…)

The Birth of Zadyn

Posted By on May 22, 2010

Zadyn Pele was due on September 11th, 2009, and didn’t arrive until September 20th, 2009.  I had chosen to do a natural homebirth with my two amazing midwives T and C.

After Zadyn’s due date came and went I started to feel very antsy.  The discomfort of late pregnancy was really getting to me.  I couldn’t sleep through the night because I had to pee every few hours and my hips would ache from the extra weight – of which I gained 60lbs.  The intense level of hormones at the end of pregnancy made me extremely emotional and I would burst into tears without any provocation.  In the end I also felt a strange sense of foreboding which really unsettled me.

My primary midwife T offered to do a “stretch and sweep” which would help to encourage labor.  The stretch and sweep is when the midwife or doctor uses his/her fingers to stretch your cervix, which releases hormones associated with labour.  The stretch and sweep was not very painful, mostly uncomfortable.  T repeated this every few days.  I felt twinges of contractions which slowly gained momentum from September 11th until the 18th. (more…)

Ripley’s Birth – February 6th, 2002

Posted By on May 13, 2010

Like many things to do with pregnancy, it’s odd how much women’s stories can help other women more than any of the books out there. I learned that labour doesn’t necessarily happen like in the books – I was four centimetres dilated (beginning of active labour, right books?), but having 2-minute contractions every 2.5 minutes (transition, right books?), and I had the sensation that the baby was going to come out my BUM — and after the fact, I spent a lot of time scratching my head and thinking “what the hell was that?” (more…)

The Birth of Jackson, November 2001

Posted By on May 10, 2010

This is how I came to decide on homebirth, and why it was the best choice for me.  I have a friend who was studying to be a midwife when my husband and I were first married.  She was the one who first started talking to me about the physiology of birth and how hospital practices can interfere with the biological processes.  Over the next couple of years I went from “No way – what if something goes wrong?” to “I would like to have a midwife, but be in the hospital” to “I want to stay home.”  I have a strong background in biology and started reading everything I could on natural childbirth.  I read textbooks, birth stories, internet forums, anything I could devour.

It took us 14 months to conceive our first baby, so I had a long time to take in all this info.  By the time I was finally pregnant, I had decided that homebirth was what I wanted.  My husband agreed with having a midwife, but wasn’t thrilled with the idea of homebirth.  We had a lot of discussions with the midwife: about how they handle specific emergencies, how the treatment would differ between home and hospital, what equipment comes to the house, what medical situations would rule out a homebirth, etc.  By the time we were halfway through the pregnancy, he had reluctantly agreed to the homebirth.

I have issues with control.  I need to be in control of my body and my health care.  The thought of going to the hospital and having to follow their rules and regulations terrified me more than anything else.  I generally avoid medication (have all my life), so even if I had a hospital birth I had no intention of using pain meds unless I needed a c-section.

I never had any doubt that I could birth my baby.  I was young (late 20’s), very fit and healthy.  Birth is a natural process and the baby would be born no matter what I felt, so being relaxed and comfortable was going to make that easiest.

(more…)